Trial for Little Falls Homeowner Continues after Judge Rejects Mistrial Request

Updated: 04/23/2014 6:39 AM
Created: 04/22/2014 10:39 AM
By: Beth McDonough

The Little Falls man who shot and killed two teens that broke into his home on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 looked away as prosecutors played an audio clip of the shootings during the trial Tuesday.

It was a homemade recording inside Byron Smith's home; the handheld device was next to Smith's chair during the shootings. Smith didn't turn it over to police or even tell them about it. Investigators found the evidence while searching Smith's home the day after the shootings. Although it was 6 hours long, 14 minutes of the audio clip were played in court Tuesday. 

The recording revealed glass breaking, footsteps and gunfire. Smith could be heard saying "you're dead."  A few minutes later, another set of footsteps are heard, followed by a gunshot. Smith then said "Oh sorry about that," and swears.

The parents of both victims were present during the morning portion of the trial Tuesday. 

At midday, Smith's defense attorney, Steve Meshbesher, asked for a mistrial based on a prosecutor's statement to the media. The judge refused.

Smith faces first-degree premeditated murder charges in the deaths of 17-year-old Nick Brady and 18-year-old Haile Kifer in the small central Minnesota town of Little Falls.

Meshbesher says Smith's home had been targeted a dozen times by burglars, who took valuables and guns. Meshbesher highlighted one break-in about a month before the shootings in which someone kicked in a door.
He says Smith was terrified and had begun wearing a holster and pistol around the house.
However, prosecutors say Smith went beyond self-defense and shooting and killing the teens after they were no longer a threat.

Meshbesher argues Smith's actions were lawful and what happened is tragic but not murder.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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